All or Nothing? I Pick All.

When I tackle something, I have learned through the years of my life to bring all of myself or nothing. I am an open book. Following the Wahls Protocol and how I am defeating MS is no different. My goals for this blog have been:

  • To help keep myself motivated and accountable
  • To provide a detailed record of one person’s healing
  • To inspire others
  • To give a truthful account, good and bad
  • To share helpful information and shortcuts that I have learned
  • To give a realistic account that does show how hard, yet how doubly rewarding this has been and is
  • To prove that its all worth it

At this time, as I have written in the past few blogs, I am rehabilitating in preparation for the workforce. I will have a job that fully utilizes all that I have to offer. Too be successful, I have had to look at some tough to swallow truths about myself. I have written about these as I deal with them. Is it wise to publicly speak of a crippling past fear of success, of horrible wreckage at the hands of MS, of darker issues that I have worked very hard to successfully overcome, thereby preparing me for a one hundred percent commitment to the Wahls Protocol?

Fear….what if a future employer reads about these issues and discriminates and I lose the opportunity for this job or that? Here’s my answer to that…..I bring all of myself or nothing. That includes any future job on my horizon. My learned skills, my experiences, and my wisdom comes with me. I once lived in a self constructed prison, terrified that the world would know where I’ve been and what I’ve done and that secretly, deep down inside, I knew you knew that I was worthless. It has taken me a long time to overcome that. Today, I have so much to give, so much I want to learn, and so much to share. Because of the Wahls Protocol, my body is finally catching up to my ambition and drive to help others. My mind is out of the fog, awake and hungry to learn more.

I had a friend in the early 90’s who had Progressive MS. She was diagnosed when she was 18. She managed to complete her degree in education, but was never able to realize her potential in her chosen career. By 26, just as I met her, she lost her right to drive, her husband left her for someone else and she then had to let go of her position as the primary caregiver for their three year old son. She was athletic, she went to the gym five days a week. A tiny, muscular thing. She strained as she forced her spastic legs to walk, her hands shook uncontrollably and the day she messed herself, but then calmly gave us direction to help her, all of us embarrassed for her, whilst she stayed calmer then us all. I think often of her courage and dignity in the face of all that ugliness.

That year a new drug, the first ever, was introduced. Copaxone. I watched her face light up with a renewed hope, only to see it fall just a few days later when she was told that the drug could do nothing for her as she was Progressive. Well Joanne, I just want to say to you, I have relapsing remitting MS and I have been on Copaxone for ten years. I started the drug when I had 20 lesions and now I have double that. I too lost my ability to drive, lost my ability to work, had incontinent bowels and had to give up primary care of my children. So, my dear friend, you missed nothing. She died a few years later, bedridden. When I was diagnosed with MS in 2004, I immediately thought of Joanne. Terrified, having watched what it did to her. If she had been given the knowledge that I have been given, she would’ve jumped on that band wagon in a heartbeat. She was far more disciplined than I am. If she’d known that Dr. Swank had published his 30 year trial on MS and diet with astounding results around the same time as the release of Copaxone, she’d be here telling me about the new exploits of her now adult son.

That’s why I have a responsibility to share my experience, strength and hope and that includes the dark stuff. So anyone afflicted with not just MS, but other autoimmune conditions, can have a chance to take control of their own health again or even better, prevent themselves from ever developing one of these diseases. This is my personal journey, and like all journey’s, though they may be the same road, each will be its own.

My success is in memory of Joanne.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-background-beach-blue-296282/

Living Proof in Early February in Calgary

Below is the information to see Living Proof in Calgary, where and when:

No automatic alt text available.
MS Hope

Landmark Cinemas Canada is hosting screenings of Matt Embry’s documentary Living Proof February 03-05!

Saturday Feb. 03, 2018 1 p.m.
Sunday Feb. 04, 2018 1 p.m.
Monday Feb. 05, 2018 7 p.m.

Surrey – Landmark Cinemas 12 Guilford
GTA – Landmark Cinemas 24 Whitby
Ottawa – Landmark Cinemas 24 Kanata
Calgary – Landmark Cinemas 16 Country Hills
Edmonton – Landmark Cinemas 9 City Centre

TICKETS
Available soon @ https://www.landmarkcinemas.com/film-info/living-proof

Off to see the Social Worker tomorrow!

I have my appointment with her tomorrow at 9 am. Our discussion will be about my intent to go back to work, the possible fall outs, the logistical nightmare with not one but two disability programs in the US and Canada, the need to assess skills against disability I still have, and fears associated with past disasters as a result of unexpected attacks throwing monkey wrenches reocurring again in my life. From there I will have appointments with Occupational Therapists and the MS Psychologist.

When I am done with this phase of my rehabilitation, then I will contact Champions, which is a career counseling program specifically for the disabled. I have a tricky resume and a past full of black holes. Examples:

  • I have 64 college credits in business and writing with a high GPA, but I can’t get my transcripts due to a government bankruptcy I was forced to declare at that time due to, you guessed it, MS.
  • I sold credit cards for MBNA for three years and was one of that telesales center’s best sales performers and sales coaches. But, MBNA sold out to Bank of America, so I have no reference that I can give an employer.
  • I spearheaded grassroots, non profit events from the ground up over 15 years, all successes, all unpaid. The college degree was to back up my experience with a bachelors in business and a minor in writing. The plan was to be a professional events planner.
  • I have seven years experience as a Mental Health Technician. Two years as an Aid at a State Hospital and trained in Crisis Intervention with five years experience on an Acute Mental Health Unit at a community hospital. But, a long time ago, 1980-1982 and 1989-1994, a. shows my age (55), which can discriminate myself from getting the first interview and back then, you didn’t have to have a degree or certificate for these positions. I was hired for the five year position based on my two years experience at the state hospital.
  • Then there’s the years disabled. How do I deal with that with an interviewer and on my resume. Tough one, of which I am not alone. I am assuming that Champions Career Counseling is familiar with this conundrum.

You see the issues, I have a lot of honed skills, but not much proof on paper, although testing will help and once I am hired, my actions will show over time what I am capable of. But, ….to get there. Well, I guess that’s where my Higher Power comes in. I’ll do the foot work, the rest is not mine to control.

Most important to see is that I am on a vista that has a far ranging future. I do not anticipate a future MS attack, not on this lifestyle. Can I gauge that by my own experience, no, its only been ten months. I can, however, gauge it by the many others I’ve talked with and listened to online and in person, who have followed this lifestyle and kept their autoimmune illnesses at bay and in check for years and for some decades. I know this works. Once upon a time, I couldn’t predict what could happen with this illness, now, I feel confident to say, I can.

Wish me luck as I move out into this phase of my journey to health!

 

Bonne Sante

What to do when feeling edgy

That is the title, not because I am an expert on the subject, more because that is the mood that has been plaguing me as of late and one way to change the tract of negative thinking is to focus attention on the opposite of it. I don’t always need to know why I feel this way and thankfully, these days, it isn’t often that I suffer from this and thankfully when I do have days or times like these, I won’t tolerate it by entertaining a mood like that for very long. Its time has come. I will say this, a feeling of powerlessness will push me in this direction. If the situation is truly a deal that I am powerless over, then I won’t have peace till I accept that fact. How can I achieve this then? By writing about my feelings, talking about it with a trusted and wise friend, acknowledging it, changing what I can and accepting what I can’t.

To backtrack a moment to not “entertaining a mood”. What do I mean by that. Anything will grow when attention is given it that feeds it. Like oxygen on a flame or water and sun for a plant. It can be good, it can be bad. What I magnify becomes my result. The choice I have is what I choose to magnify my attention on. Suffice it to say I am in a bad mood. Why? Because I have focused my attention on situations that I clearly have no power over and have forgotten what is good. I let myself get depressed over them and indulged in a a narrow and negative point of view. All of which culminated in hissy fits this morning and then feeling bad about that (lot of self centeredness going on there). To get over this mood and get out of my self centered obsession, I need to do the opposite of what was listed above.

I’m powerless……..I ask for a Higher Power’s strength to do what I need to do to get me out of this funk. Means I need to accept what I have no control over, people, places and things and change my attitude to a constructive one, not destructive.

I’m depressed…….I take self care action. Like extra grooming which is an act of self love, extra time cleaning my living space where I dwell, another act of self love. Forcing myself to show up, in my situation its been within the four walls of my house when alone that I succumb. Therefore, show up at home, do things that interest me and if I’m not interested, do it anyway, get things done, don’t sleep and zone out in front of a TV.

I’m indulging negativity…….I will indulge the positive instead, starting with a gratitude list. I find when I take the time to actively sit down and write out a well thought out gratitude list, it doesn’t take long for me to see that, truly, I’ve got it pretty good.

Self centered thought process…….First off, it has taken a long time for me to even understand what self centered thinking is and how to recognize it, for others, it comes easier, for me, its work to stay out of it. Thinking of others, while forgiving myself for my shortcomings (hard for me). Thinking of others and practicing art are ways to get myself out of my head.

There, I feel better already!

 

Bonne Sante

 

 

Enjoy what is

Decreasing stress is one of the components of the Dr. Wahls Protocol. Stress is known to be a catalyst for illness. My own experience proves that. I was under a great deal of duress building up to becoming sick. Life happens, sometimes it isn’t pleasant. I’m stating the obvious, but its important to look at the truth of that. I have learned over the years due to a different illness I have that relies on the practice of gratitude to stay in remission, how to live in the moment, to look at my part in relationships and mistakes, to do spot check inventories, to make gratitude lists and to enjoy what is. Like anything these habits require a commitment and daily practice. I have had years of successfully applying these practices to my life and I’ve had times when I let them go and let old negative habits creep back in to the detriment of my serenity.  It was during those times that I got sick and running scared, made bad decisions that made the situation ten times worse then it had to be.

How to practice serenity is to be grateful for everything. To remind myself to live in the moment. I like these statements, “God will only give you what you can handle in one day.” and “I have all the money I need provided I die at 12 midnight tonight.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t plan for this or that. It means, I make the appointment, research the information, jot down the idea, then let it go, putting it out of my mind till its time to deal with it. This takes practice and is sometimes easier said then done. However, like anything, practice makes it easier to do, then the rewards flood in from the practice.

Sometimes to get down to a free flowing serene state, I must look at unpleasant truths about myself, especially if the same set of calamities or repeated mistakes happen over and over again. That’s usually a sure fire sign that the fault is mine. Somewhere, there are deep rooted issues that must be unearthed, amends made, myself and others to be forgiven and then, if the work is earnest and sincere then peace for this situation or relationship happens. Other people are usually necessary to help with this, such as support groups, advisers, counseling, religious practices for some people, etc. Food for thought, the smartest and most powerful people on Earth have advisers, the more responsibility they have the more advisers they have. It is, paradoxically, not a sign of weakness, but of strength to seek advice and assistance.

Meditation is the practice of being in the moment. To be aware of all five senses, to quiet the mind, concentrate on breathing, build a deeper communion with a Higher Power if one so chooses, or to feel a deeper connection with the Earth with sounds of nature and thoughts of ancient trees and pathways thru the woods or how the Earth feels on your hands when you plant something. We can do quick, in the moment meditations with everyday mundane activities, like concentrating on the warm sensation of sudsy water as I clean the plate, listening for the sound of clacking silverware when I drag the bottom of the sink for silverware to clean. Or we can do long prepared meditations. Set the scene, a favorite spot in our home that we create the space for. Burn incense maybe, light candles, play serene music or sounds (I like the ocean) or listen to a guided meditation. Exercise and jewelry making are both deep sources of meditation for me. I am completely focused when I create, colors, sewing, the feel of beads in my hands, or exercise, I’m off in my own world. When exercising, I am completely riveted on the teacher, the movement I’m doing, the feel of the water, the weights in my hands, the flexing of the targeted muscles, my breathing. When I do these things, I am not thinking about the bills I need to pay in two weeks, or the appointments I have tomorrow or even in two hours, I am completely in the moment. This is one of the reasons I love doing these two activities. Anxiety, fear of the unknown, causes the body to do certain things, increases heart rate, gasping for breath, racing thoughts of fears and over dwelling on negatives. Meditation is the practice of clearing the mind, deep thoughtful breathing, bringing one’s thinking back to the present moment and the realization that one is safe in that moment. Many fears are of bogeymen that are not happening right now and in most cases may never happen. And if there is a difficult loss occurring, job, family, health, then the practice of these above can make them easier to handle, more manageable by making it possible to take the situation(s) piece meal.

To enjoy what is are all these practices, that is the goal for me. That and humor. A sense of humor can cut stress in half and help keep a heart light. There is always two ways to look at any situation. Most of the time there is something good to consider even when it feels unfair. Here’s a silly joke:

Four men from Boston meet every Sunday to play cards. Clancy, Taylor, John and Ian have known each other for decades. John is the upbeat positive chap in the group. No matter what anyone says he always answers, “It could be worse.” This always rubs Clancy the wrong way. One Sunday, only Clancy, John and Ian show up. Ian, visibly upset, breaks the news to Clancy and John that Taylor is in jail after coming home Saturday night and finding his wife in bed with another man, he shot and killed them both. To which, John says, “It could be worse.” Clancy yells back, “That’s the last straw! You drive me nuts, how could it be worse John, two people are dead and our good friend is in jail, how could it be worse, you tell me that?!” John replied, “It could be worse because he could’ve come home on Friday when I was there.”

It could be worse.

 

Bonne Sante

Stick with the winners

I am forever seeking people who work at and are successful in bettering themselves. Whether it is to be drug and alcohol free, smoke free, spiritually fit, physically fit, or healthy from MS. Whatever it is that I must face and work to be rid of, I seek out winners in that specific issue. Right now in regards to the Dr. Wahls Protocol and my journey to heal MS, I pay attention to those who have successfully followed a healthy lifestyle and put their illness in reverse. When I see this, I watch, learn, listen and do what they are doing. If I want what they have, then I need to do what they do. What I don’t do is put them up on a pedestal or make them different from me by comparing with statements like this, “Oh, they are special and I could never be like that.” or, “They have it easier and they have money, so its easier for them”. These are nothing but excuses to quit. This is what I utilize when I get negative. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I love that psalm from the Bible. It has gotten me through all kinds of situations that I was terrified of and didn’t feel I was capable of doing, deserving of having or good enough to be included in. I’ll give an example.

I have had the opportunity to go to college, but at one time I had a seventh grade education. I got my G.E.D. at age 33 and went to college at 43. I am a recovered alcoholic and sobered up when I was 28, 26 years ago. Several years into my recovery at age 32, I was inspired to start a sober festival, very much like a “soberstock”. Six months into the footwork for this I spotted a three day grant writing course in a Daniel Webster College brochure that didn’t require a high school diploma to attend. Our mission was going to need funds and backers. Going to that course was scary for me. I hadn’t been in a classroom since I was in the 7th grade. That grade I was suspended six times, missed 83 days of school and got straight F’s. I guess, technically, that means I had a 6th grade education.

The first day, I asked God for help and marched in. I picked up a folder in a pile of them, then oohed and aahed over the nice pens and paper and tin Daniel Webster College book mark. We sat and the teacher began her monologue. An hour into it, there was a constant reference to “margins” and “fonts”. I stopped her several times to explain what is a margin, what is a font….? Embarrassing. There were four of us taking this course. One was a woman there on behalf of a school district to write a grant for computers for them. A man who was a Social Worker on behalf of Big Brothers and Big Sisters. And a woman on behalf of Camp Heartland to write a grant for children with aids to go to summer camp. And me, for the Half Moon Sober Festival, something no one ever heard of. We hadn’t even had our first event yet. It took everything I had to walk back into that room the next day. When I pulled up, I stepped out of the car and opened up the back door to get my folder. While I did that, I got on one knee like I was searching for something and asked God to help me, saying my favorite saying, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

That day we were instructed to write our grants that night and bring them in the next day. I wrote my grant out and brought it in. I quickly noticed the beautifully typed and clean grants the others created. I looked at my pathetic lined paper, handwritten, chicken scrawl complete with crossed out words and sentences. We were then instructed to grade each other’s work. Thoroughly and completely humiliated, I got through it. But, miracle of miracles, I learned how to write a grant. I found someone with computer skills to set my words to paper carefully following the layout instructions of the grant writing instructor. The first grant we applied for, my proposal got us an invitation as one of only 10 invitees out of many that were denied. Out of that ten, only five would be selected for the grant. This was not a huge grant, but for us it was. Five thousand dollars annually. A fair amount for a small grass roots non profit in 1995. They complimented me on the grant. I was the only one there who wasn’t collecting a pay check from the non profit they were representing.  After a presentation we won the grant and a number of others with that same basic proposal.

My confidence was so bolstered by all of this, that I finally made the decision to go for my G.E.D. Afraid that I was as stupid as I usually felt and was assumed to be, I was amazed when I passed the practice G.E.D with marks in the 80’s and was directed to go ahead and take the test, which I passed. I put that off for ten years out of fear and lack of confidence. Ten years before that, I had an appointment to take the test. But, the day of the test, one hour before, I chickened out. Ten years later, “Higher Powered”, I was doing things and facing things I never could before, all because I thought I had God with me. Feeling empowered and not alone. I find that if what I do serves a purpose, then the doors open up. It doesn’t matter to me what other people believe. Its none of my business, I respect other people’s beliefs. This works for me.

Doors have opened up for me to get well from an incurable disease. Am I being cured by God? Not really. Am I working my %ss off? Yes. Am I doing the footwork, reading the books, following the examples of the “winners” before me? Yes, yes and yes. However,  day in and day out, I turn to a Higher Power for fortitude and strength. Maybe its the belief that I am a woman acting as if a loving, powerful entity is behind her that does it. Who cares what it is, its working!

Speaking of winners, in reference to the Protocol, specifically. I was involved in starting a support group for people with MS. This was just before starting the Protocol. I had a very powerful message from a one time attendee, Matt Embry in remission over 20 years, who spoke of a lifestyle like Dr. Wahls. Dr. Wahls began her research with Matt Embry’s father’s research. I started the Wahls Protocol straight away the very next day. My focus switched to that of wellness. The group’s focus was on the disease. Not where I want to be. I quit the group and joined The Wahls Protocol Facebook group, bought books, and watch for others successful on a natural diet, whether its Wahls’, Swank’s, Emery’s, Jelinek’s, whoever. I am on the look out for examples of success with this diet. I have had bad moments (which I am honest about here), but that’s where my Higher Power comes in.

I read another example of success in my Facebook feed today posted by Matt Embry. I’ll share this interview for you here:

http://www.msdietforwomen.com/living-well-ms-24-years-interview

Very inspiring example!

 

Bonne Sante

 

Waking up to the possibilities

I feel weighted down with the financial limitations I have due to the extra money that it costs to keep this way of life going on my limited income. I’m looking at my calendar, I’m counting days to the next pay (13 days to go), I’m looking over the veggies I have and I know that I don’t have the components necessary for each day, but I’m not starving either. I just won’t have the right balance of foods for a short time. I have $18.00 to split between me and my cat. She needs her Fancy Feast and I need greens. I’ll spend the money on Fancy Feast and greens. I’ll take it a day at a time, which is all any of us really have anyway. I had a friend who said once as he watched a hearse go by followed by a funeral procession, “I wonder what that guy was worrying about last week?” I think of that when I start worrying about too many days at once.

My father died from Emphysema at age 61. He said, “Don’t do what I did, I worked hard all my life waiting for the day I could retire and really live.”  He worked three jobs in his 20’s, two full time jobs till he was forced to stop early at age 45 due to his illness. He spent the next 15 years on oxygen, progressively getting worse. He told me this two years before he died. One thing I did do that he just couldn’t, was quit smoking. Addictions are the primary killers in my family. Smoking, drinking, and obesity. My mother and her sister both died from type II diabetes in their early 60’s due to their weight and eating habits. My maternal grandfather died in a drunk tank in the 50’s, most of my generation on my mother’s side have had problems with drinking. Oddly, not my only brother, it jumped over him like a tornado takes down a street of houses, but skips over one. My paternal grandfather died from Emphysema and my father followed in his footsteps. All of them died around the same age, between 60 to 64.

I had it in my head that if I could deal with all the addictions, having smoked since the age of 11 and I am an alcoholic. I stopped drinking in 1991 and quit smoking in 1996. I kept my weight down with a combination of exercise and weight watchers. I never saw it coming when I was blindsided at age 42 with not one, but two major neurological conditions. What happened to all my plans. My plan had to do with the fact that my maternal grandmother was one of 16 and they all lived to the ages of 96 to 104 (no addictions in that line), that was going to be me. We never know what tomorrow could bring. I can prove that by looking at yesterday. Raised in Massachusetts, did I dream I’d be living in the places I’ve lived. Here I am in Calgary away from the swarthy Irish, Italian working class heritage I miss sometimes. Don’t get me wrong here, I love Calgary, great people here. No, did not plan this.

The best way to deal with my life, if I want peace, has got to be one day at a time. I can lay plans, I can have goals, but then, I have to get back into the day I am in or it all gets stressful fast. The actual possibilities available to me are upon waking each morning to the new day ahead of me, if only I don’t squander it unnecessarily on that which I have no control over, tomorrow and yesterday. Most of the time these days, I am fairly successful in doing that and most often I am a light hearted soul. But, there are those days.

The financial fear has to go. Here’s the truth:

  • I have a roof over my head and my rent is paid
  • I have decent clothes on my back
  • I have two children who are healthy
  • I am sober and smoke free
  • I just lost 35 lbs and I am a full two sizes smaller then I was
  • I no longer need walking aids as yet another person asked me just yesterday what happened to your walking (referring to how well I walk now), when you got here you were in rough shape.
  • I have hope for the future
  • I have the food I need today
  • I have medical support helping me get back on my feet
  • I have the Dr Wahls Protocol and the willingness to keep at it
  • I have two neurological conditions that do not define who I am nor do they decide what my future will be, anymore

This is shaping up to be a hell of a day!

 

Bonne Sante

 

 

 

 

What a day!

Whenever I lose a little confidence about the next step in this journey that I am on, I have a leap forward that restores that confidence. Today was such a day. I walked two blocks to the bus stop this morning, (not new) to meet friends. After coffee with them, I walked two and a half blocks (not new) to WINS, a used clothing store because my clothes are two sizes too big for me (smile). I shopped and tried on clothes for two and a half hours without a rest (new). After I paid, I was handed two medium sized garbage bags, about 15 lbs each. For a moment, I panicked. I thought, especially after all this shopping, I can’t carry these home (the norm). First, I thought, “A cab.” But, a cab ride from there is $40 at least. Defeats the purpose of saving money buying used. I told myself, “We’re working out, that’s all.” I went to the bus station with my two bags, took the bus back to my neighborhood and walked the two blocks to my house with the bags. I was strong, I didn’t slow down and I didn’t trip once (new). When I got to my house, I was still strong, I wasn’t struggling for the door (new). Seven months ago, I couldn’t walk half a block with a walker (was)!

My walking has been getting progressively better week by week on the Protocol. I’ve progressed from the walker to the cane, walking better, stronger, then, without the cane, slowly, staring at the ground, then, without having to stare anymore at everything that is a half inch high lest I trip. What has been the same has been that at some point, I am fatigued and I have to sit down for at least 30 to 40 minutes to regain strength in my leg. That’s what didn’t happen today. Might happen tomorrow, but it didn’t happen today. This just keeps getting better. It made me cry happy tears. I called family to share what happened.

On the job front, I have decided to not apply for any other part time work. If I don’t hear from the one that I did apply to, then I will have the second carpal tunnel surgery done, which my Neurologist really thinks I should do. I agreed. I told him, “I’m almost over it (emotionally, in regards to the first carpal tunnel surgery I had).” On the other hand, if the job calls me in and I am hired, then the surgery is not meant to be, at least for now. If the job doesn’t answer, then working right now is not meant to be, so that I can better concentrate on rehabilitation, whilst dealing with the money situation the best I can.

Exercise tomorrow, I will have new physio exercises to add to my circuit training routine. Upward and onward!

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adolescent-adult-black-and-white-casual-270968/

 

Powerless? I think not!

I have my neurology appointment tomorrow. I’ve not seen my Neurologist since just before I began the Protocol. My last visit with him was an emergency visit because of an attack I was having and after three visits to the emergency room with excruciating back pain and a bad fall, I realized I was having an attack. My walking had deteriorated significantly and really had been getting progressively worse year after year. I had walked with a cane for four years, but now I needed a walker, even at times in my own home. The Doctor told me to take only half a dose of steroids. He was worried about what it may do to my bones where I have three fusions in my neck. I asked him for muscle relaxers. For me to ask for that, things are bad. I’m not big on taking drugs if I can help it. I chose to not fill the steroids script and took a half dose of muscle relaxers at the prescribed times. On day two of this, I was slurring my speech, sleeping hours during the day and drooling on myself. I said, “F@#k this!”, and started working towards what I knew was the answer all along having been introduced to the Wahls Protocol two years before. I saw the wheel chair and the motorized scooter looming ahead.

Three weeks after that I started this blog to help me stay on track and be accountable. I considered naming the blog “F@#k this!”, but thought that might detract from what it is actually about without an explanation in the title. So, Defeating MS – My Journey became the title, it says it all. As many of you know, I’m off the walker, then the cane. My mobility has improved back to what it was five years ago and gets a little better everyday, I’ve lost 34 lbs and my cognitive damage has improved dramatically as well. So, I’m going to see my Neurologist, who hasn’t seen me since all of this occurred. He’s been a good Doctor for me. I’ve had support. They know what I am doing and he sent the scripts and paperwork I needed to do Wahls electrical stimulation and physical therapy for my leg. He could’ve said no or charged me money for the paperwork. I have no resentment with him. The system, though, is too inundated with medication as the only resort for autoimmune illnesses. Someone debated with me not long ago, who is in the medical field, she argued the tired defenses that you can’t truly test if the Wahls Protocol works because you don’t know if their sticking to it and even if you do tell people, they won’t do what’s good for them. I agreed, that’s true in regards to the second point, but maybe 25% of them would if they at least knew that this exists and that it works. People need to at least know that this is an option and it comes with no ill side effects. And in answer to the first point, Wahls has suggested that they record their progress. Wahls Warriors she calls them. They are filming, writing, and blogging. Living proof they are. No its not a double blind study which costs millions to do. Right now the backing isn’t exactly there, but the testing is happening. Dr. Wahls is a published research MD aside from her Protocol, Autoimmune Wellness AIP are in the midst of research testing as is Dr. Jelinek of Overcoming MS OMS in Australia. Whether the pharmaceutical companies like it or not, it is coming.

Alright, back to my Neurologist. I keep side tracking the original thought. I have no idea what his reaction to any of this will be. I stopped my Copaxone about a month ago, they know that. Will it be indifference? Will it be interest? Might he be excited about my progress in the other, unexpected direction? Will he try to talk me into going back on Copaxone? No clue! I have a had an MRI confirming the attack. It showed two new lesions in my back, the year before, lesions were developing in my mid back. Scariest is the conversation I need to have with him in regards to seeking support and therapy to become ready to try working full time. I want to try this in five months, I understand full well, it may not be possible for me to ever work full time because of fatigue. While fatigue has diminished greatly, it is still around and must be factored in. My hope is that it will continue to get better. Then there’s the fact that I am 55 years old. Glass half full: I have at least ten years I could work, glass half empty: I am 55 and have MS, Wahls or no Wahls, like it or not, it is a major factor. I am confident I could work a little part time job. I have been considering doing this right now to help offset costs of the diet. This diet with supplements is costing me $500 to $600 a month. Ordinarily, $300 is what I spend on groceries and household a month. It’s a heavy amount on a small fixed income with no other source of income.

I am of this belief: Nothing is impossible if it is meant to be and you work hard for it. How do I know its meant to be? Well, the healing for one. I feel like I’ve been in some ways, frozen in time, unable to move forward. I feel free to once again work for future goals like school or work or non profit work. I have hope, when once I didn’t.

I am no longer a powerless victim of this disease.

 

Bonne Sante

Another Big Day

Sleepiness is away. This is what I ate today:

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Midday meal of Baked chicken thigh with coconut oil, Cajun sweet potato fries baked with coconut oil and a cabbage, onion, and carrot Cole slaw in a balsamic/olive oil vinegarette
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Dinner, fried cod with coconut oil (two pieces instead of none for the second meal), sauteed broccoli with garlic and onion in coconut oil, last of spinach with pepper, cabbage, radishes, almonds, onions, and carrots in a vinaigrette. 

Look at these meals, poor me, I gotta eat this! I expect this food in a good restaurant. These are the types of dishes I am eating most days, factor in smoothies and bigger salads, with chia seed pudding from time to time for a treat. Chia seed recipe:

  • 3 tbsp Chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup fresh fruit (I like strawberries or blue berries or both)
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • dash of salt and a 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Mix together and let sit for 1 hour or overnight. Awesome stuff!

Another big day, spoke with my Neurologist’s nurse today. She’s so good at getting back to us. We spoke at length. She filled out the form sent to my Doctor for physio, yay! Have to wait a week for my Doctor to be back from vacation to sign it. Then that should be good to go. I reiterated that I will not be renewing my Copaxone prescription. She warned me that I might not be able to get back on it if I stop. She’s right too, in Alberta, they require you to have two MS attacks within a two year period to be approved for a MS drug. Even if you’ve had a dozen attacks and dozens of lesions, and have taken the drug before. Its an odd criteria, I am aware of it, I had to wait for a second attack to hit to get back on Copaxone after having been on it for three years. Copaxone has proven to me that it does nothing, while the Wahls Protocol has proven to me that it does far more than Copaxone can barely claim to do. So, I’m done with it. My mind is made up. And the third biggie in the conversation, was going to back to work in five months. I asked to have support. I want to see my Doctor, not a student of his so that I could speak to him of the fact that I am terrified to go back to work. Fear of the rug being pulled out from under my feet again. I have safety nets in place now that I stand to lose, namely subsidized housing and disability. The last time, I ended up homeless, bankrupt and lost primary care of my daughter. Yes, its a frightening prospect. I need all the help I can get! And so, the next five months my job will be to get ready to work, physically, psychologically and logistically. Spiritual disclaimer: “If it by Thy will.” I am on this planet to live it to the best of my ability.

Important to remember, that as I move in this direction, it does not mean that it will end the way it seems that it will, with a job and that I will be okay working thirty-five to forty hours per week. I may find that the best I can do is twenty hours a week or less. I won’t truly know till I settle in. In the mean time, I will do everything I can to be prepared. Hopefully, after a few months of rehabilitation and counseling, I’ll then pretend to work, by scheduling full days of work. I’ll set pretend hours and begin to build my schedule and life around the loss of those hours. That will help give me a clue whether its possible. And after a month of that, then I will begin applying. Of course, by then, I will know the best occupations to strive for, I will know what I can do and can’t. I already have a good idea. And, given the remarkable progression of wellness I’ve had in seven short months, I believe that I should be in better shape then as well.

Friggin’ Scary! That’s how we would’ve said it in Worcester, Massachusetts where I was born and raised : )

 

Bonne Sante

Preparing for Employment

I have been busy considering employment situations that are best suited for me. Five months is still when I see myself climbing that mountain. In the mean time, there is a lot I need to do to be prepared to apply, it will cut down on wasting my time and the employers for jobs that are just not realistic for me to do. First, is a sense of failure after all the work of seeking, applying, hiring, only to crash and burn. A second reason is to narrow down the list to the job skill sets I have and can do despite my limitations. Options that are out:

  • Standing in one place all day
  • Sitting all day
  • Repetitious work like maneuvering a mouse or typing all day
  • Rotating shifts (nights, days, nights, days)
  • Driving (yet)
  • Walking all day
  • Lifting more than 30 lbs

I have office skills, sales, computer, writing, organizing, presentations, speech, desk top publishing, crisis intervention and mental health patient care. I have a lot of options, but coupled with limitations, that narrows the list down considerably. This is important, if I’m going to work, I want an interesting job with above average pay. What would work for me is a combination of walking, writing, speaking, selling, presentations, phone, computer, organizing. An hour here, twenty minutes there, up, down, sit, stand, type, talk with customers/clients.

I thought an entry level position with Telus might be good. As a customer, I’m happy with them, there a well organized institution with benefits and compensation. I was a telemarketer for MBNA and never missed my commissions. With a company like Telus, and being the goal oriented person I am, I could potentially progress in positions and pay rates. However, this is a sit all day position maneuvering a mouse repetitively.  Onto to the next consideration. I’d thought of pursuing work at the local Natural Market. This would present varied movement, waiting on customers, stocking, cashier and a discount on the expensive foods I need. I could do this job, if we can work out that I can sit here and there when I need to. They might not like that and I, won’t like the minimum wage. I’m worth more. My dream job promoting and teaching the Dr. Wahls Protocol. Good work, interesting, and real purpose where I am paid to help people get their lives back.

In the mean time while I figure all this out, I am brushing up on my typing skills, I want to force myself to learn Excel (for whatever reason, I have avoided that program like the plague, time to get over it). I need to practice using the new versions of Publisher and PowerPoint, which I have on my computer. Everyday, I spend a little time looking over the Calgary job market. It gives me a feel for what jobs I fit skill wise, and if I need to cross them off the list, because, for example, a driver’s license and a car is required. My college transcripts as I explained in previous blogs is something that is still in the works. Have to update the resume.

Then the complicated component. The disability programs. Plural, because I deal with both the US and Canada. Both have their respective programs. I downloaded the “Ticket to Work” booklet from social security, I need to read that. My AISH worker, disability in Alberta, I have expressed my desire to work, she is aware. I will need to eventually meet with her and talk about how their back to work program works.

In the mean time, I need to continue getting better by doing my part, following the diet, exercising, and doing physio. And, like it or not, I really need to get the carpal tunnel surgery on my left wrist. Five months isn’t written in stone, really nothing is, however it is what I see. It is a goal to work towards. I work well under timelines.

Finally, I have an appointment with my Neurologist November 3rd, I need to talk about all of this with him. I need to call the office, because its him I want to see, not one of his students. I also need to inform the nurse of my decision to discontinue Copaxone. They expect to renew me for the next year. If at all possible, it would be nice to have support from them as I try to work full time for the first time since 2004. To re-enroll in the Optimus Program (my MS clinics therapy program) where I can utilize the psychologist, the psychiatrist, the physiatrist, the Social Workers and Occupational Therapists, for the purpose of becoming fully functional again. I’ve had the program in the past to help cope with becoming dysfunctional, I will need all the help I can get to go in the other direction. Although, this is something I will do whether I have their support or not.

We’ll see how that goes. I’m still waiting for physio for improving my walking gait and left leg weakness with the e-stim machine.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from UnSplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/CpUgwcQn_SA